Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Does Saudi Arabia Really Want a United Iraq?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 19 April 2010 12:41

The list of Iraqi guests at the palace in Riyadh over the past weeks prompts numerous questions about Saudi policy towards its eastern neighbour. For several years now, Riyadh’s Iraq policy has been a lot more passive than that of Iran, characterised by more muttering than meddling, and with relatively few attempts to reach out more broadly beyond Sunni-oriented leaders. For a long time it seemed as if the Saudi leaders still held on to futile dreams of an Iraq where Shiites could be almost excluded, as indicated for example by reports that Riyadh played a role in scuppering the tentative but promising alliance between Abu Risha (the awakening leader of Anbar) and Nuri al-Maliki last summer.

But with recent visits to Riyadh by ISCI’s Ammar al-Hakim and Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Masud Barzani, it is clear that the problem does not have to do with insurmountable ethno-sectarian barriers, but rather with the Saudi choice of guests… Full story at the Gulf Research Unit blog, where Iraq articles with regional dimensions will be posted occasionally. The comments option remains open at this blog, below.

7 Responses to “Does Saudi Arabia Really Want a United Iraq?”

  1. Wayne White said

    I could not agree more that Saudi interference, while difficult to research in concrete terms (as with quite a lot of similar Iranian activity), appears to have been exaggerated in many quarters. Indeed, I find it especially difficult to credit those trying almost to equate Saudi “meddling” in Iraq with that of Iran in its extent. In fact, the phrase “muttering rather than meddling” perhaps captures best a sizeable portion of Saudi activity (or lack thereof) within the Persian Gulf more generally rather nicely, based on what I observed during my 26 years in the Intelligence Community, not infrequently first-hand as a participant in diplomacy or an on-scene witness to it.

  2. Ali W said

    Reidar, I disagree and agree. The Saudi meddling has been huge. The funds for Al-Qaeda has manly come from Saudi Arabia, the support of the shia cult Jund Al Samaa came from Saudi Arabia. The Saudis has caused more Iraqi deaths than Iranians. However I agree that Iran has a stronger say in politics. But the Saudis play the dirtiest tricks. they are the worst enemy for Iraq, far worse than Iran, because they beleive 70% of the population to be Kafir, thats far worse than what the Iranians view the Sunnis.

    Also, Saudi Arabia has far more available cash than the Iranians. However, why we dont hear much about Saudi intervention, is because the Shia in Iraq generally dont want to upset Saudi as its a powerful country, they always refer to “an Arab Country”. Also we would not hear much from Americans, because they are strong allies and many of the times they generally want the same thing.

    DO they want a strong unified Iraq, the answer is NO. No country wants a powerful neighbour, partically a shia one for the Saudis and the Arabs, nor a Shia government that has the Hawza of Najaf that does not beleive in the Iranian system of Wilayet Al Faqih (Rule of the Jurispudent). Both countries rely on Oil, which Iraq has the potential to upset the whole equilebrium. With strong man power, gas reserves, tourists revenue, Iraq would be too much for all its Neighbours, and take away the dominance of both Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    However i beleive that will eventually happen within one or two generations.

  3. Reidar Visser said

    Ali, you may want to know that Ali Allawi, the former minister who has also conducted academic research on the Shiites of Iraq and Mahdist movements, has evaluated the government’s evidence in the Soldiers of Heaven case and was very critical about the quality of the prosecution and the flimsiness of some of the evidence implying “regional connections” presented (I think Jordan was also suspected at the time).

    Also, Al-Bayyina al-Jadida presents a new Saudi conspiracy almost every day! Or, rather an Israeli-American-Saudi one…

  4. Kermanshahi said

    If Iraq stabilises and becomes powerfull than they will threaten Saudi Arabia’s position of main Arab power in the region and also in ’91 there was a threat of Iraq invading Saudi Arabia, the Saudis are maybe afraid this might happen again if Iraq becomes too powerfull. Keeping Iraq weak would be good for SA.

  5. Salah said

    All Iraqi neighbours include Israeli not welling to see democratic country established in Iraq there are no one all around Iraq love Iraq be united one big and strong nation, each one have his own fear and greed to take peace of walkcake that American came to own it.
    Let not forgot T. Freedman famous statement ” You break it, you own it..

    the Hawza of Najaf that does not beleive in the Iranian system of Wilayet Al Faqih (Rule of the Jurispudent).

    This total crab and delusional minded reading of all Hawza directed by Iranian but inside Iraq.

    Both countries rely on Oil, which Iraq has the potential to upset the whole equilebrium.

    Yes if Iraq strong nation with goodwill govern, but the past seven years could you tell where is the Oil billions went?
    40% of Iraqis under poverty line is this an oil nation living in Iraq?

  6. Sadiq said

    Saudia Arabia favours a weak, sunny lead Iraq with a nationalist unpopular Government that would then serve as a cushion/buffer to curb Iranian ever increasing power in the region. A powerful stable Iraq exporting oil at a similar proportion to SA in a couple of years is SA’s worst nightmare. No other arab country has resented the Shiite lead GoI as much as SA, SA simply will not accept that the shiites in Iraq are the majority and with a bit of help are actually capable of running the country. Thanks

  7. Hasan said

    Its complicated, I can’t think of any type of natural contradiction that doesn’t exist between the Iraq and the SA, lets remember the Irani-SA relations in the past 30 years what would happen and is happening is the same, with an important difference in the balance of power now.
    I think in a sociao-political point of view its now the age of shiit philosophy and power and that absolutely makes the Saudis tremble.

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